Winter 2013

Winter 2013

Solar state

Solar state

Gov. Patrick builds a fast-growing industry with big subsidies

ON APRIL 17, 2007, Gov. Deval Patrick traveled to Marlborough to make two announcements. One was that Evergreen Solar was going to stay in Massa­chusetts and open a $150 million solar panel manufacturing plant. The other was a commitment to increase the state’s solar power generating capacity from 2 to 250 megawatts by 2017. The(...)

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Tsongas coming into her own

Tsongas coming into her own

Neither caretaker nor token

THERE’S A LONG TRADITION in Washington of political wives following their husbands into office. Sometimes those spouses have an impact apart from anything their husband accomplished—think Hillary Clinton—but more often they’re reliable placeholders. They win votes because of the tradition they carry on and, in office, they follow the political path worn by their husbands.(...)

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Eminent domain for mortgages

Eminent domain for mortgages

Brockton, other cities consider novel idea

ON THE MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 28, Brockton police arrested 51-year old Tyrone Hubbard and his two sons for trespassing in their own home. Fannie Mae, the federally chartered purchaser of mortgages, was foreclosing on Hubbard’s house and wanted him out. Trying in vain to make peace was City Councilor Jass Stewart, who had arrived to(...)

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Only some opinions count

Only some opinions count

Two-thirds of 853 state-level polls were in 11 states

      PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS, done well, offer people an opportunity to speak to their leaders in an organized way. But the hunt for Electoral College votes tends to put all the focus of presidential campaigns on the opinions of residents in a handful of contested states, leaving no opportunity for residents of less(...)

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Root of the problem

Root of the problem

Lawrence Lessig says our democracy has become thoroughly corrupted by the moneyed interests. Until we fix that, he says, we won't be able to tackle any of the country's big challenges

 “RICH” AND “POWERFUL” go together so naturally that they seem to be not just partners but synonyms. When it comes to the workings of our democracy, however, Lawrence Lessig says that bond has never been as tight as it is today. Wealth may always have a larger claim on power, but Lessig says money and(...)

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Is character key to student success?

Is character key to student success?

Two books make the case

AS A THOUGHT experiment, imagine you’re magically “shaping” a high school senior. You’re lucky. Her starting point is that she’s at the 80th percentile in both IQ and “character”—a composite measure of traits like grit, tenacity, and optimism. You can increase either variable, but only by lowering the other variable by the same amount. For(...)

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Vendors outside Fenway being phased out

Vendors outside Fenway being phased out

Can operate until they die, retire

THE CITY OF BOSTON is slowly phasing out the street vendors around Fenway Park, claiming that the 18 small business people selling grilled chicken sandwiches, sausage sandwiches, peanuts, and baseball caps represent a safety concern. The vendors will be allowed to continue to operate until they die or retire, but their operating permits will not(...)

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Mixed grade for Obama’s first term

Mixed grade for Obama’s first term

Bold initiatives, but a failure to sell them

BARACK OBAMA’S FIRST TERM was marked by daunting political realities. Upon entering office, he faced an economic crisis un­matched since the Great Depression. The banking system teetered on the verge of collapse. The automobile industry in Detroit was tanking. The nation was hemorrhaging 70,000 jobs each month. Despite all this, some said there were reasons(...)

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UMass football thrown for loss

UMass football thrown for loss

Team takes beating on field, box office

  THERE WEREN’T MANY bright spots last year as the Univ­ersity of Massachusetts Amherst stepped up to the top level of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision. The team went 1-11, playing in the Mid-America Athletic Conference, and was outscored by an average of 40-13. Even more disappointing was the lackluster attendance at the team’s(...)

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